Platformers in the style of Castlevania games are so plentiful that they are pretty much capable of being an entire genre of their own – and some are already if you consider Metroidvania its own genre. Of course, it’s always nice to have such vast options available to us, but with so many to choose from nowadays, there needs to be something unique to make a platform title stand out. After spending some time with Feudal Alloy, I think there may just be enough here to allow it to stand out as a memorable title.
So, the game begins with you assuming control of Attu, a robot whose prime commands come from a fish in a bowl on its head. A bit of an odd start for a protagonist but hey, what’s wrong with a little change eh? On any normal day, Attu would normally be found farming, growing sunflowers and caring for the village elders in his humble community of robots, ensuring each one is taken care of and oiled appropriately with sunflower oil to ensure they stay alive.
Like any story involving heroics though, there is always someone who wants to get in the way and ruin the day and in Attu’s case that would be the local bandits who have come in to steal the entire oil supply, leaving the lives of the elder robots in a worrying state if the oil isn’t returned. With that in mind, Attu sets off with his sword in hand to hunt down the bandit thieves and save the day once more.
Before I get on to just how you’ll be saving the day, first let’s look into the visuals as it’s the art design that caught my eye the moment I jumped into the world of Feudal Alloy. Being a Metroidvania style game, the game world is designed in a fantastic 2/2.5D fashion – it’s hard to tell which one exactly thanks to the incredible detail that has been put into the backdrops – and everything seen within this world has been beautifully hand drawn. The results are almost on par with that of the incredibly detailed and stunningly designed Cuphead, with a cartoon-like art style to each of the many backgrounds and characters.
For the majority of the game, players are found traversing between caves and underground areas, yet despite being in similar locations each time, each area feels unique thanks to small and intricate details being drawn into each one; ladders, rocks, or even broken items that show of past incidents are all present. These do enough to ensure every new area feels distinguished in its own right rather than simply being an extension of everything we’ve already seen before.
Gameplay wise and (whilst it’s not a term I like to use when writing a review, and I have already used it several times here already and will have to continue to do so) Metroidvania is by far the best word to describe the action on show, mainly due to the sheer amount of backtracking that is required to enable progress throughout the game. To traverse to new areas, players must first find and piece together a map of the area, and with pieces spread far and wide, backtracking is the only way you’ll be able to get them all.
Fortunately, that doesn’t feel half as much of a ball ache as it could be thanks to rather satisfying controls and gameplay mechanics. No matter whether you’re swinging your trusty sword at an enemy or jumping to a new ledge, everything feels as smooth as you’d hope. This ensures that you’re never caught out by a mistimed jump or action, allowing things to speed up just that little bit.
As for our protagonist, being a robot also means the same hazards apply to Attu as the elder robots. Doing too much in a short space of time can lead to Attu becoming overheated. Now this doesn’t take much – it seems simply being in the sun too much can even overdo it – but there are several ways to cool our saviour down to ensure he can go forth on his adventure. The first and probably best way is to chuck a bit of oil on things. Oil is an essential in Attu’s life also and should you find an extra bottle laying around, there’s no reason to avoid using it, especially in high intensity situations such as combat; it doesn’t take much for our helping hero to succumb to death should you not keep an eye on what is essentially your stamina/overheat bar.
The other way is to make the most of different armour parts and weapons you find along the way. There are plenty of options available, all in different shapes and sizes, and this is also a great way of almost personalising your Attu, whilst many armours also have a cooling effect.
The majority of what will cause you to heat up – besides running and jumping – is fighting. There are plenty of enemies to put to the sword and this is where you’ll need to keep a closer eye on your heat levels, ensuring you don’t take too many hits but you don’t run too far either. Fortunately, enemies are rarely all that difficult to contend with and providing you put in a handful of good swings you’ll put them down with no real issue.
Each defeated enemy sees an opportunity to gain towards your skill trees, and there are three unique ones in place for Strength, Armour and Heating. You’ll need to ensure picking up every ounce of materials left over from defeated enemies, as these are the currency you’ll need to utilise to slowly unlock each and every upgrade on each tree.
Of course, upgrading what you have is always a great option in any game, but another way to increase your chances of survival, your look, and your items is by taking a peak in the in-game shop. To own the nicest items, you’ll need to have saved a decent amount of coin, but with enemies dropping coins on defeat, it never takes an awfully long time to save.
Another thing to keep an eye on throughout the adventure are the hard to find modules. Finding these isn’t easy, with many hidden in secret rooms, or at the very least hard to reach areas. Discover them and you could find yourself the proud new owner of a double jump or a new wall jump move. Essentially, things that will help you progress at a faster rate.
Overall the story in Feudal Alloy is going to be something you can sit through in about 5-7 hours, and during that time you shouldn’t find all too much of a challenge. The narrative and feel-good adventure on offer is one that many should enjoy. There are some fantastic visuals to gaze at throughout too, a lovable protagonist to follow and plenty of upgrades to keep you progressing and chasing after. Yes, the combat isn’t overly interesting given it only takes a few well-placed swings to down most enemies, however the simplicity of it all is something that fits in well with the gameplay on show. The lovely musical score that accompanies things really help set the scene as well.
If you want a simplistic adventure that you’ll remember for all the right reasons, then Feudal Alloy on Xbox One is the way to go. It isn’t perfect, but it is a fun experience; with super simple controls, smooth and fluid gameplay and a story we can all get behind, there’s no reason not to love Attu’s adventure.